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Four World-Beating Whiskies

W hisky has never been more popular than it is right now, with collectors and first-timers alike vying for the chance to own some of the great single malts. Collectors are passionate not only about the liquid within these bottles, but also about the beautiful and innovatively designed bottles themselves. This rise in attention has been reflected through a number of world records broken at auction in recent years, and many of these title-winning whiskies are presented as part of the forthcoming Ultimate Whisky Collection sale. Here we highlight a selection of them.

Macallan 60 Year Old 1926

W ith only 40 bottles produced from the famous Cask 263, the 1926 Macallan 60-year-old is the most expensive whisky of all time. Having originally set the Guinness world record for “the world’s most expensive spirit” in 1987 for £5,000, 2018 was another record breaking year for this 60-year-old Macallan. Last year one bottle of this 1926 distillate set the record when it sold for £816,983, before beating its own record that same day and selling for £886,112. The highest price achieved for this whisky to date is £1.2million.

A bottle of Macallan whisky, with the date 1926 in large on the front of its label and with a wooden case beside it
THE MACALLAN FINE & RARE 60 YEAR OLD 42.6 ABV 1926. ESTIMATE £350,000–450,000.

The Macallan 1926 bottles sold last year showcased 3 different labels: one designed by Pop Artist Peter Blake and another by Italian artist Valeria Adami, while the most expensive was hand painted by Michael Dillon. The present lot is one of only 14 bottles ever to be released with the iconic Fine & Rare label, which hasn’t been seen at auction since 2007. Whoever gets their hands on this most superlative of scotches, the true “holy grail” of single malt, will own the most iconic piece of whisky history.

Bowmore 54 Year Old 1957

T he picturesque isle of Islay, off the west coast of Scotland, has witnessed the creation of many sensational whiskies over the years, but none of them as old or rare as the Bowmore 54-year-old from 1957. With only 12 bottles produced, this whisky is incredibly rare, and the Ultimate Whisky Collection presents bottle number 1, the first of these bottles to be filled.

A bottle of Bowmore whisky with a silver neck and lid, and with a glass wave design wrapped around it; a wooden box is in the background
BOWMORE 54 YEAR OLD 42.1 ABV 1957. ESTIMATE £85,000–110,000.

Each bottle was hand blown and inlaid with platinum by glass artists Brodie Nairn and Nichola Burns, formed into wave-like shapes that are, the distiller have said, “reminiscent of those that constantly crash against [Bowmore’s famous whisky maturation warehouse] the No. 1 vault’s sea-facing walls”. The platinum collar on the neck, meanwhile, is hand-engraved with the bottle number and whisky strength by jewellers Hamilton & Inches.

The Dalmore L’Anima 49 Year Old

T he 49-year-old Dalmore L’Anima (or “soul” in Italian) is the product of two great creative minds – Dalmore’s master blender Richard Paterson and Michelin-starred chef Massimo Bottura. The one-off bottle was sold by Sotheby’s earlier this year at a charity auction in London, where it raised a remarkable £109,000 having started the bidding at just £50 with no reserve - the proceeds going to Bottura’s non-profit organisation Food for Soul.

A bottle of Dalmore whisky with a stag symbol and the words "aged 49 years" on the front
THE DALMORE L’ANIMA, AGED 49 YEARS. SOLF FOR £108,900, 9 MAY 2019. Till Britze

L’Anima’s success is a reminder of how attractive lots with no reserve can be for bidders. It is also a testament to the power charity lots can hold, with similar stories seen in two recent record-breaking Hong Kong auctions. In 2015, the six-litre decanter of Macallan M “Constantine” raised £381,620 for local charities, making it the most expensive whisky ever sold at the time, and two years later a set of six rare single malts known as the Macallan in Lalique Legacy Collection reached £933,000.

Springbank 50 Year Old 1919

Having begun its journey a century ago, the Springbank 50-year-old 1919 was once listed in the Guiness Book of World Records as the most expensive whisky in the world. Only 24 bottles were produced back in 1970 at Springbank, Campbeltown, the oldest independent family-owned business of its kind in Scotland and one of a number to be founded on the site of a formerly illicit still.

A bottle of Springbank whisky, dated 1919 with "Campbeltown" written in large font at the top, and housed in a wooden frame

This whisky, which was sold for £132,000 in December 2018, is one of the finest and rarest single malts ever released. It was distilled shortly after the end of the First World War, making this a unique opportunity to partake in a critical moment in the preeminent maker’s past. The elegant wooden case in which it is presented is a unique and attractive addition.

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